First Sky Arts RSL Writers Award winners announced

First Sky Arts RSL Writers Award winners announced

The RSL has announced the recipients of the inaugural 2021 Sky Arts Royal Society of Literature Writers Awards, which celebrate and nurture British writers of colour at the beginnings of their careers.

Each of the five winners will receive 10 mentoring sessions over the course of 12 months with an RSL Fellow writing in their form, as well as two sessions with Sky Arts ambassador Bernardine Evaristo.

Evaristo collaborated with the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) to create the mentoring award scheme as part of a £300,000 project earlier this year, which sees other ambassadors, each in charge of £30,000 per year, create their own bursary scheme and nurture new talent.

The winners are Christina Fonthes for fiction, who will be mentored by author Irenosen Okojie; Clementine E Burnley in non-fiction, mentored by Colin Grant; Sarah Isaac, mentored by playwright Roy Williams; Pey Oh, mentored by Pascale Petit for poetry; and Adiza Shardow, mentored by Tanika Gupta for screenwriting.

Presented for the first time, the awards are focused on discovering and nurturing talented emerging writers of colour, working across different literary forms. The scheme was developed in order to counteract the underrepresentation of British writers of colour.

The shortlisted writers included Marissa Mireles Hinds and Ioney Smallhorne for fiction, Emily Abdeni Holman and Omar Khan for non-fiction, Nicole Latchana and Yuyu Wang for playwriting, Joyce Chen and Naush Sabah in poetry, and Jessica Benhamou and Luis Hindman for screenwriting.

Evaristo said: "It’s essential to create new initiatives to help make our culture more inclusive for those from underrepresented and marginalised communities. I’m looking forward to discovering and mentoring the next generation of talented writers through this wonderful Sky Arts and RSL programme."